'It is uncivil': Honey bear murals on shuttered SF storefronts defaced amid pandemic

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Thursday, April 16, 2020
Artist's honey bear murals on San Francisco's shuttered storefronts defaced
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At a time when we look for the best in human nature, we're seeing the opposite. These heartwarming honey bear murals popped up around San Francisco recently, as the world grips with a pandemic. And now, the art is being defaced.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In urban life, messages inundate us.

"No parking."

"No barking."

Drill deeper, they also reflect the times, especially when reading the white board at the corner of 18th and Castro in San Francisco.

"Yeah, people are giving messages to the living," explained Jesse Oliver Sanford, who lives next door.

"All things will get better in time," says one note.

"Take care of each other," says another.

"We've got this!" cheers a third.

However, when we talk about messaging, that includes the non-verbal as well.

Have you seen the beloved honey bears? Since COVID-19, the artist known as Fnnch has added to their attire on bears posted to up windows.

RELATED: Coronavirus inspired honey bear murals pop up on San Francisco's boarded storefronts

Now, the honey bears wear N-95 masks.

"I think he is taking his iconic image and transferring it to our situation. Saying it is on everybody's mind," opined Stevyn Polk.

Fnnch, is notoriously difficult to find, but he does have an Instagram page on which he offers an explanation.

"These boarded up stores are depressing. I long to sit down in a restaurant again, get my hair cut again, go to the art supply store again. But until that happens, we might as well used these boards as a canvas for art," he wrote.

So would someone care to explain how in the past few days, those reassuring honey bears have been unwrapped, ripped off, stolen and defaced?

At a time when we look for the best in human nature, we're seeing the opposite.

"Yeah, I think it is uncivil. I wish people wouldn't do that," said Jesse from behind his protective mask.

Polk went further.

He knows San Francisco better than most of us because he's a tour guide.

"People just want to destroy something that someone else has created or they want to create over someone's creation," he said.

One could argue that change is the true nature of public art.

Once it goes up, public art and even fine graffiti belongs to the world.

We allow that.

But when it happens to such a gentle message, shouldn't we hope for better?

"I think human nature is changing. But it is not going to come fast," observed Polk

That's a shame in this singular historic moment when patience already feels like it comes at a premium.

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This split image shows "Masked Bears" wheat-pasted by the artist fnnch on San Francisco storefronts amid the novel coronavirus pandemic on April 11, 2020.